Because today’s girls grow up

Blog post of Gabriella Heller, Association of Hungarian Girl Guides to the

“Stop Violence against Girls” Campaign

Because today’s girls grow up

I am not a small girl anymore, but still a young woman, and as a girl guide, I meet other girls and young women every day on different programmes where I take part or which I hold.

For instance, yesterday with a friend we held a movie night and watched Billy Elliot, directed by Stephen Daldry. If you saw the film, you know that Billy, a little boy in a small mining town once discovered the miracle of ballet dancing. And with the assistance of a ballet teacher he decided to be a ballet dancer. Of course at first he met the total rejection of his father and brother and the local community. A boy should be committed to take box lessons. But ballet? Did he get mad?

However, slowly, together with his teacher, he managed to change the rigid standpoint of his father, brother, and the entire town. Even his former box trainer offered his small income to Billy to make him able to travel toLondonto theRoyalBalletSchool.

After the movie we were talking about how it felt going against the flow, behaving against the attitudes of a community, how important the role of education is and how can a few people change the attitude of an entire community. Because they can. Even if they are “only” children.

Last week I had the pleasure and opportunity to participate, together with Stephanie Darmanin fromMalta, in the event taken place in the European Parliament, where the “Stop Violence against Girls” Campaign inEuropewas launched. We met the representatives of other NGO-s, UN Women, Members of the European Parliament, and the representatives of other EU-institutions.

I was surprised that we were the only non-governmental organization talking about the role of education. I was surprised that no other NGO has discovered the importance and moment of education while addressing the global pandemic of violence against girls and women. This fact shows that our campaign is very unique. The campaign primarily addresses girls and young people and is implemented by girls and young people.

Girls and young women are among the most vulnerable groups suffering from violence. They meet physical violence on the streets, in wars and conflict situations, mental, emotional and verbal violence at their homes and work places, and have the least power to protect themselves. The situation in our today’s world proves that if they do not speak out for themselves, no one else will.

Therefore we need to empower our members, girls and young women, to take action. We, girl guide and girl scout leaders and trainers know that if our girls are aware of their rights, have self-confidence, know how to build healthy relationships, how to solve conflicts in a peaceful way, how to talk to boys and men about the problem of violence, they can ignite a real change. The key assets to reach these goals are the methods of education, particularly non-formal education. Since what we do, namely learning by doing and learning by personal experiences are the most effective tools I know. Through them girl guides and girls scouts are able to indicate change. To change their own lives, and the attitudes of their smaller and wider communities.

We should not forget that every girl who is now 6 years old will be an adult, a wife, a mother in a few years time. Her current experiences influence her adulthood and her subsequent family life. If she suffers from violent acts of her class mates, her brothers, her father or of unknown men now, according on the statistics there is an increased chance that she may become a victim later. Additionally, if she had to carry the traumatic experiences of violence, it will have an impact not only on her own fate, but also on the future of her family she will establish and her children. And if think about millions of girls who are now 6 years old, we already talk about the future and the health of entire societies.

As the biggest organization dedicated to girls and young women, we need to ensure that our girls grow up safely. And I believe that with this long-term campaign, during which we educate girls and young women around the world, and reach out to boys and young men, we can reach our aim and can stop violence.